Welcome to CIRAL 2.0

Dear Incoming CIRAL members,

In an attempt to make your quarter more productive, less stressful, and to give you a jump-start, this letter will inform you of last quarter's progress, and its pitfalls, and make easily available some resources we were able to compile. It may be a valuable asset for your efforts this quarter.

Civic Intelligence, as you will soon find, is a somewhat obfuscate term; pinning it down to a form that can provide some utility is difficult. Informally, civic intelligence refers to how 'smart' collectives are in comparison to their problems; stated differently, it is how well groups of individuals, organizations, or communities assess adversities they face, deliberate possible solutions, and then collectively act to mitigate or solve these problems. You will surely hear more on this from Doug and John forthwith.

The Civic Intelligence, Research, and Action Laboratory (CIRAL) is an attempt to institutionalize at TESC a group of some kind that commits and acts out Civic Intelligence. It is a way for students to assess the needs of the Evergreen community, and the Olympia community at large, find possible ways to mitigate these issues, and then formulate projects or begin internships that do so.

To avoid some of the pitfalls and problems that the students from CIRAL winter 2012 encountered, here is a brief list followed by some possible ways to avoid them. One of our major problems was a lack of a rational plan of action. We got excited about the idea of starting these projects; a campus-wide survey of the homeless students here at Evergreen, for example. Brainstorming and planning for the survey before building a framework and database for the information, or having the necessary documents to ensure it is legitimate was putting the cart before the horse. Before we had an operational database or a Human Subjects Review Request Form complete we were talking about the logistics of the survey itself. The good news is we have tons of resources, info, and completed forms for the cluster addressing homelessness awareness and advocacy during spring quarter and beyond.

The class has developed an open source wiki page to facilitate correspondence, and all the work done up to this point is on that page. You will find a section with contact info for any previous members who wish to remain on the list, and some have provided additional information about themselves. There is also a section of resources that link to key community organizations, like Safeplace and Sidewalk. Along with these resources is the body of work the 'cluster' that was working on homelessness advocacy.

With the assistance of Yin Yu, who completed a similar survey two years ago, we as a group have completed the Human Subjects Review application, the Letter to the Subjects, and the Survey, based on Yin's, that can be used once the HSR application gets approved. These documents, along with the rest of our work, can be found at http://wikis.evergreen.edu/civicintelligence/index.php/CIRAL_vs_Homelessness. Hopefully, with the assistance of these documents and any correspondence you may choose to organize with myself or other members of the CIRAL Winter '12, your quarter will be productive and informing. One of the primary goals of this program is to create and spread Civic Intelligence and to keep the dialogue running;just by reading this letter you are contributing to the dissemination of civic intelligence. Thanks and good luck!

        Sally, Alex, Jess, Shawn.

CIRAL vs. Homelessness Team

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